Chinese pickle – turnip, carrot and cucumber

Chinese pickles

Chinese pickles

Chinese pickles

Chinese pickles

Sushi has become a very common choice for meals these days, for its multitude of flavours and healthy ingredients (perhaps not so the fried pork cutlet with layers of fat-ladden mayo).
Surprisingly, J doesn’t like sushi and I still haven’t figured out exactly why. With her new found love for prawns, I might try a prawn salad filling next time to tempt her. Except she might unpick the whole thing and eat just the prawns. Well that will be an entirely different post and I digress.
One evening I served an extra dish of scallop sushi – bought from Sushi Pac as a reward for S – and J frowned and asked me what the pink coloured slices on the side of the box were.
“They are ginger slices, pickled in vinegar.” and J replied,
“Oh life can be a real pickle, eh?” I was stunned! Where did she pick this up from? So I ask,
“Who taught you this?”
“er…Linda!” (her teacher at childcare)
“Do you know what it means?”
“Yes it means sometimes, some things shouldn’t break, you know, but some things then break! We don’t know what to do. That’s a pickle!” she said a matter of factly.

I was made speechless by that explanation, and was inspired to make some pickled turnip, carrot and cucumber.

Note: jar sizes vary a lot and a trick I have to ensure I don’t have too much left over pickle solution each time I make this recipe, is to measure the amount of vinegar I need based on what jars I have on hand.

Before heating the vinegar, I work out how much vinegar I need for 2 jars of pickles:

Using a tared scale, I pour vinegar into my two clean glass jars to just under half way of the jars. This will be the total volume of vinegar you need. Pour the vinegar back into the saucepan and continue with the recipe. I may have to adjust the amount of sugar but always start with 350g and taste as I go.


  • 600g turnip (about half of a large one) – in Chinese it is called ‘white carrot’, Japanese it is called Daikon
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 750ml apple cidar vinegar or white vinegar
  • 350g + 100g (2 cups +3/4 cups) caster sugar


  1. Peel the carrots and cut them into logs: about finger-length and half centimeter by half centimeter wide. Half the cucumber lengthwise and scoop the seeds out and discard. Cut the cucumber into the same size as the carrots.
  2. Sprinkle about 2 tbsp of salt over the vegetables and gently massage it in. This draws the moisture content out and makes a nice crunchy pickle. Leave this in a colander to drain for 30 minutes.


3. In the mean time, pour the vinegar into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add sugar in, stirring to dissolve. Turn off the heat and let it cool.

4. Give the vegetables a good firm squeeze and use paper towels to dry them further. Put these in the large glass jars, and pour the cooled pickle solution in. Leave for 4 hours minimum and keep in the fridge.

5. Serve with anything really. After all, you never know what kind of pickle life is going to throw at you.

Chinese pickles

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Angelique says:

    I made the Chinese Pickle today, and cannot wait to try it with my favourite congee breakfast soon. I am from South African, spent a year as a Rotary exchange student in Taipei many years ago, and also live in Abu Dhabi for 6 years… so I love Asian and Middle Eastern Cuisine. I recently moved to Darwin from Sydney…. Sydney is full of Asian restaurants. Darwin is a melting pot of East and West and the markets in the Dry season have such a variety of food. Thanks for your delightful blog!

    1. michtsang says:

      Thank you for your kind message! Sounds like you’ve had an epic life long experience in different cuisines, that’s wonderful!

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